Monday, May 30, 2011

Back to Hobart

After a short detox after Good Beer Week, I made my way down to Hobart, and went straight to Monty's for my customary Cascade Export Stout over lunch, getting in contact with Moo Brew to book a tour and talk to Jon about catching up with him before the tour the next day.

With the weather good, I went for a walk around town, ending up at the New Sydney Hotel where I tried a Stark Raven Stout with a wallaby pizza before hitting a Brew Dog Tokyo, that was on tap! The local Stark Raven had a very luscious licorice flavour to it that made me think the alcohol was quite high, but after heading back to the bar to ask, found it was only 6%, so felt much better going for the Brew Dog after that. Still, getting half a pint of it with a pint of water, I sat at the bar (to make sure someone noticed if I fell off the stool) and slowly sipped away at it for over an hour. As a little experiment, I had a bailey's after the Tokyo, and apart from a very slight taste of alcohol, it was basically like drinking a chocolate milkshake...a very strange experience. With only a few drinks under the belt, I was able to get to bed early for a big Friday.

Getting on the first boat out to Moorilla the next morning, I spent a few hours going through the new MONA building that was not open last time I was down here. Meeting up with Jon to taste a few of the beers in the bar, I checked out one of the only 13-odd 55% 'End of History' Brew Dog beers, that the owner of Moorilla payed something like $2,500 for a scottish costume wearing taxidermic squirrel stuffed with a bottle of this beer in it. The Hop Harvest was pretty strong in hop aroma, with a somewhat sharp bitterness at the back, but found the hop flavour did not come through as much. The Saison was tasting better than my last try, but still getting some wateriness towards the back. Still, a few more weeks has helped build some body to it. The current stout has some decent roastedness to it, which is diminished in the previous years stout. In both I did get a strange taste I am not use to in stouts, but found it hard to pick what it was, but was less in the '10 stout.

I quick trip from there, Jon took me out to the new brewery to show me how much better they are now set up, and how they are looking to increase the range and amount of beer they can get from this new facility. Of particular interest was seeing the pinot noir oak barrels holding the current stock of Vintage Stout that they will be bottling as I write this, and filled me with excited anticipation to try the latest version. After seeing a few familiar faces, and meeting a few new ones that the new facility has helped bring into the fold of Moo Brew, we tasted a second batch of the Saison, that I have to say I prefer, with an even fuller body of taste and less wateriness to it.

Scotty is one of the newer members of the Moo Brew crew, who has come across from the states to help build the range of the brewery and bring his own touch to the beers they brew. As he was going to be taking the tour that afternoon, he took me back to Moorilla, where I met up with Mick, and tasted a couple of wines with him before the tour. There was only 7 of us on the tour, so Scotty kept things pretty casual, basically letting us crack open any beer we liked while doing the tour. With the sun going down, the balcony view was again stunning, and was nearly enough to forget I was on the tour. Still, with a lovely beer in my hand, it brought me back to the tour. Scotty was very knowledgeable on beer, and not shy is stating he wished to up the amount of hops used in the brewery's production. Being so knowledgeable though, answering some of the questions from the crowd were made a little difficult, and his pure passion for beer came through in how much he wanted to inform us on what he knew. This was great for an equally excited person like myself, but I still tried to ask questions that I hoped would help the party understand instead of become overwhelmed with the beer information coming to them. During the tour, Scotty even opened a Vintage Stout for all of us to taste. With the rest of the crowd having had enough, it was left to Scotty, Mick and me to continue chatting after the tour, when who should turn up but Dave taking a few mates around the brewery. Having heard he will be heading up to work with Temple Brewery, I look forward to the new facility opening up in Brunswick.

With Scotty seeing us off with a few 'spare' beers from the end of the tour. Mick and I made our way into town, and headed to New Sydney for locally made 5 Hop Frenzy and 77 Elephants before heading to dinner, where I was underwhelmed by a Two Metre Tall Pale Ale. Finishing the night with a quick visit to Monty's to see the karaoke over one last Cascade Export Stout.

Needing a quieter day the next day, we visited Cool Wines, where we were recommended to visit as the beer bottlo in town, finding a Brugge beer I decided to bring back with me, and having a good chat with the staff member, and exchanging each other some good beers to try. Getting back into my brothers forte, we did a quick trip out to Pooley Wines to taste the nice rieslings they have before getting on a plane back to Melbourne to attend Stass's Buck's night. After a long night of bowling, boag's beer, bailey's, some bad karaoke, and of course boobs, I am now on another break from beer until the need to celebrate Stass and Jess's marriage this weekend, will again bring back the necessity to have a beer or 10.

Big thanks to the Moo Brew boys for organising for me to check out the new facility and for throwing a few beers our way, particularly Jon and Scotty for being tour guides. Another great visit to Hobart, and now just waiting for our assignment of Vintage Stouts to come my way...

Monday, May 23, 2011

Good Beer Week: Day 7 - 'Surviving' Sunday & See Ya GBW!

I'm Alive, I'm Alive!

The final day of Good Beer Week started with Stass and I feeling ok (except for an alcohol burnt tongue) after the big beers from the night before, but feeling the bloatedness I've had to contend with all week. After some brekky I decided to take Stass to one of the best venues I'd been to on my travels during the week.

We sat down at Josie Bones to gawk at the tap list and start the day with the Moon Dog Black Lung and Gulden Draak. The dark spirit and woody smell and taste came through on the Black Lung, but it was pouring even worst then on Friday, so some taste and texture seemed to have been lost from it (maybe my tastebuds were just finally giving up). The Gulden Draak had a really nice caramel nose and straight barelywine taste when it was cold. As it warmed up more of the caramel came through, and with a good creamy body to carry it over the tongue, this became another favourite from the week. We also tried out the Nogne O #100. While cold, the hops were pretty strong on the nose and midpalate, but still cleaned up ok with a decent body overall, helps with the malt backbone. As it warmed up, the balance of hops and malt really came through to make it a really good example of a dark/black IPA. Was interested to see that instead of the dark bitter malt to meld into the hop that seems to be the norm with this style, there was a sweeter malt and more citrus/fruit hop that melded quite well and more to my own personal taste.

Moving onto the Dog's Breakfast (one more time), the smoke still overpowers, but have heard that in the bottle this is diminished to help balance it out a bit. Stass was interested to get some 'mushy pea' smell from it, which I could sort of pick up, but had no idea where it came from. Still, who can say what can come out from a beer with the ingredients it does. Still this was easily outdone in the round by the Hitachino Espresso Stout, which had that same mocha porter smell and taste for me. Still, I was getting less mouthfeel to let it coat my tongue better (again, maybe just where my tongue is at after this week), and Stass wasn't digging it as much as me. He was digging the chicken giblets that I have to say were good at cleansing the tongue enough to keep enjoying each beer.

We could have finished this part of the day now, but after the Gulden Draak I had a caramel craving, and seeing the Weihenstephaner Korbinian was in bottle form here, I had to try it again. Out of the bottle it sat a little heavier on the tongue and so seemed a bit more cloying than when I'd had it on tap. Still, that sweet caramel smell and taste, that just holds and holds across the tongue, leaving with some residual sweetness on the back that almost makes it overbearing, even for a sweet tooth like me. Simple, clear but cleaning up just enough for my palate at the back with alcohol and very mild hop makes this my personal favourite from the week. I now want to try and brew something like this, even though I know Stass will ruin it wanting more hops to balance it out (boo!).

Thanks once again to the staff at Josie Bones. It is good to be able to go in there at quiet times to chat with them and get their thoughts on beer they have in stock at the moment. Also caught up with Rose who I had seen a couple of times during the week, and found a 'treasure' of my own with the German Beer Drinking songs album they have on display. I want to hear that album next time I go in!

Making our way to Slowbeer for our final event of Good Beer Week, my brain started to play up knowing it was nearly over and soon would not have to concentrate of keeping me going though the alcohol haze that became each day. Still, before it could switch off completely we had the final 18 beers to get through as we traveled the old and new world of beer taste established brews with an aussie equivalent. I though the order was a little strange, but in true 'Slowbeer' style, with the breadth of beers instead of depth in this tasting, they still managed to play around with our taste buds (what was left of them).

The Saison was between Dupont and Otway, and having heard the latter was pretty good, was excited to try it off against the classic. The light, fruit/yeasty Dupont was quite refreshing, even with a little driness on the back, whereas the Otway sat heavier on the tongue and had a slight smoke back to it. There is a darker fruit smell, but the darker malt to go with this seem to mask the fruit. The body does lighten up a bit when left to sit on the tongue though. Stass made a good point that the alcohol in the Dupont, while not coming through in taste, was a bit high for a refreshing beer like this, and would like it about half of what it was.

The Abbey Dubbel was between a Rochefort 8 and Bright Fainter's Dubbel. With me love for the Rochefort 10, I wasn't sure if I had even tried the 8 before and after the Korbinian I'd had earlier in the day, my tastebuds went straight back to that, even though the higher alcohol in this helps cleanse it a bit more. I did find however the carbonation did ruin the texture. The Fainter's had a dusty and lackluster dark caramel, that sat heavier on the tongue and doesn't clean up so well in comparison.

Onto the Hefeweizen duel, the Weihenstephaner had the banana, lightness (to the point of watery) with the dry wheat aftertaste, while the Bridge Road Hans Klopeks was even lighter in flavour with a slight orange and wheat on the back.

Fittingly, as we came into the Smoke/ Rauch style, I hit my 100th beer for the week, so put on my pink elephant silly hat to celebrate for the rest of the tasting. However, I had to endure a Bamberg Aecht Schlenkerla Urbock, as my final test to the ton. Ok, it is not that bad. The sweet smoked ham aspect is stronger in smell than in taste and it cleans up ok with a bit of ham. The 3 Raven Dark didn't come close to it with a very sedated smoke that was not as sweet.

Moving into English Pale Ale: the Timothy Taylor's Landlord Ale has a bitter hop and light malt smell. A caramel malt rises on the tongue and leads into the hop well before cleansing on the back. Quite refreshing with distinguishable flavours and only slight hop aftertaste. The Van Dieman Ragged Jack has slight fruit and caramel smell, with a heavier palate that the hops don't rise out of.

The Samuel Smith Taddy Porter came up against the Holgate Tempress in the English Porter style, so was probably the most interesting one for me. The Taddy had a choc malt smell similar to the Holgate, but is a bit watery a bitter. The milk chocolate we had with it boosted and sweetened the chocolate taste in the beer though. However, it did nothing for the Holgate, which while is one of my aussie favourites, did not do it for me this time, with carbonation and a watery body really ruined this match up. Mind you, just shows these beer need to be on tap to taste off at their best.

Coming into a more American style of pale ale, the Sierra Nervada had a bit of a fruity nose which is refreshing but with a dry bitterness on the back. However, a slight overcarbonation with hop fizz did take away from the body. The Stone and Wood Pacific Ale really came through well, with the passionfruit/pineapple nose and taste with the light malt body and cleansing bitter finish.

The Emersons came up against Knappstein in the Pilsner class. There is a slight citrus with the wheat and yeast nose on the Emersons, but for me the hop was too dry on the midpalate even if it helped clean up the back of the beer. The slight passionfruit in the Knappstein was much more pleasant for me personally, with the light malt pushing into this hop flavour that also had a bit of grass about it that lingered in aftertaste.

The final style of the night was coffee, and between a stout and a lager within the category! The Hr Fredriksen Vaesel is a collaboration beer between Amager and Mikkeller that has a sweet coffee and dark spirit smell and a bit malt/coffee front that leads into an alcohol that while cleanses, leaves a way too bitter aftertaste for me. James came over to me at this point to say he preferred the Mikkeller aspect of this beer by itself and I could see where he was coming from, as the spiritness of the Amager does thin it out and strip back the coffee flavour. I think there is some sort of balance found in blending these beers, but if you like one more than the other, of course you will be disappointed to have that 'muddled' by another beer. Anyway, as for the final beer in this tasting and of my whole week, the Burliegh Black Giraffe has a bit more of a fuller coffee smell that doesn't rely so much on bitterness. Still, as a lager, this beer cleans up well and the bitter chocolate that was paired with these pair of beers went great with this beer.

Not a bad way to finish the tasting after enjoy a Rogue's Mocha Porter and the Hitachino Nest Espresso Stout, but as I said, the Korbinan was a personal favourite and the Les Trios Baltic Porter being the best beer I tasted over the whole week. Apart from the Russian Imperial Stout tasting at my place on the Saturday (with silly hats, mates and my bed 5 metres away), my favourite venue was Josie Bones with their amazing selection of beer on tap. I have really enjoyed this week and has given me some memorable moments and a great oportunity to try beer and meet looks of other people doing the same, and being involved in the making of those beers. I've been able to peak into the beer society, but probably just enjoyed trying as many beers as I could to get over the 100 for the week. Thanks to all the random people I met, and mates that came along with me on the parts of the journey they could.

Overall, I hope as well as helping beer nerds like me experience more with beer, I hope this week has helped many other people just getting into beer, or helped other by getting them into beer, maybe with random attendance at a beer event they may have accidently stumbled upon. Everyone has a flavour that they can find in beer, and even if some didn't quite find it, they may have been inspired by the versatility of beer to keep searching for it, and have their mind opened to the potential of beer that they can appreciate outside their own tastes.

I look forward to this event getting bigger and better next year and snowball the influence it has started with this week. It will make it harder to get to all the events and venues as I did this week, and maybe enjoy them in the way I have this first time round, but then I am already into beer, and if more people get into it, more can come out of the beer scene in Australia, with greater variety and quality in aussie brews, etc.

Thanks to all the venues for getting involved in this week, and the people for going out and visiting these venues to open or continue your appreciation of 'good' beer. Well done to the organisers for being able to pull this gig together is such a short amount of time, and offering such a variety of events to keep all sorts of beer 'consumers' happy.

Now to detox from the week of good beer and retox to what I normally do with beer. Grab a case of Pure Blonde and get smashed on a park bench. I look forward to getting back to offending passers by soon with drunken abuse.

Feck off yer gits, I'm not dead yet (yep, it's all coming back to me),


PS: My GBW Tally: 111 beers, 16 venues, 14 events...and countless people annoyed by my presence.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Good Beer Week: Day 6 - Imperial Stout Saturday

With the weekend upon us and GBW begins to end, I was able to attract a few friends to get on the bandwagon with me (and help me if I fell off), most importantly my brother in beer, Stass.

We headed out to the System Wars event at Grain & Grape, where we started our education on doing full mash brews with 4 approaches on show. It was great to get an idea on the differing approaches (but maybe not so good to see the cost for a fully automated system) and just chat to the guys, and discussing the different methods and their mashing techniques in general. While we were out there we did a shop of things for an IPA we are going to go against Team Harrod on, and caught up with Ross, who I met on Wednesday, and also the Crafty Pint camera crew who were looking the worse for wear trying to get to as many events as possible this week.

Getting back to my place, both Stass and I had a craving for a Royston parma, but seeing it didn't open til 3 (curse you!) we went plan B with a Mojo pizza. Seeing I was only going to allow imperial stouts to be the beer to go down my gullet this day, we went next door to Purvis and found a spare Amager Hr. Frederiken in the fridge that had not been drunk at the tasting the night before, and caught up with a 'gravely' Damien to see how the beer awards went as we purchased the beer.

By the time we got back to Mojo's, our woodsman pizza was ready, so we cracked the Amager and drank it in the sunshine. The bbq sauce and meaty texture of the pizza went well with the beer, but the salami just made the alcohol burn more on our tongues and increased the bitterness. Holding back some of the beer for the walk home, we finally regained our tastebuds to appreciate it. However, we were both feeling a little unsure that we would make it through the rest of the tastings we had prepared for the day. Grabbing some snags, Mersey Valley Vintage Cheddar, King Island Smoked Cheddar and some apples, we started getting into the imperial stouts.

Samuel Smith Imperial Stout - dusty caramel malt up front but cleans off quickly. Good texture but a bit of fizz across the tongue, and some slight hop bitterness in aftertaste. Pretty light overall which made it a good starter. Seeing there was only 4 of us drinking, we just had smaller serves as we ran the gamut of them. We came back to the leftovers after. When we came back to this one, there was an increase in dark raison smell and taste.

Brooklyn Brewery Black Chocolate Stout - one of my faves that we know is lighter so wanted to get that on in early while our taste buds could fully appreciate it. the nice creamy chocolate nose with alcohol over the top which comes through the same in taste, with the alcohol rising with warmth, with only slight burn. It cleanses well and with no one aspect overbearing the others, shows great balance and profile of flavours.

Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel Peche Mortel - slight bitter coffee smell. Very light, bitter/roasted coffee/malt that builds into the back and lingers. Not tasting much alcohol, and on second round the smokey smell came out more.

Can I say, our own Russian Imperial Stout comes up pretty well compared to these beers, in fact it is the best of our beers in comparison. There is a dark fruit smell, an unrefined but nice rise of malt and alcohol over the tongue with a good body and texture. My last two words were 'mellow' and 'good!!'. Actually, I may have even said that if I would have liked to put this beer in for a competition, apart from the fact it is solely brewed from extract. A win for us!

Red Hill Imperial Stout - I have had this beer aging for about 18 months, and have to say and getting more impressed with it. The dark fruit smell, with a lighter caramel body but good texture is starting to build up a bit more, and hoping this caramel keeps improving with the other bottled I have. Am looking forward to trying this one on tap soon, as Red Hill have told me this should be coming out at the Royston again for Winter.

Murray's Wild Thing - dark malt and alcohol smell. Has a decent body but a little light on taste. In the second round, there was a sweeter malt smell.

Durham Temptation - quite a vinous smell for this style that translates well into taste, with the alcohol rising from the mid-palate.

Amager Imperial Stout - Pretty thin on taste, but rounded in the standard flavours of this style, with decent texture.

Nail Clout Stout - dark fruit with a slight vinous smell. Fairly standard taste (sorry, tastebuds are definitely dying by now), but a bit of vinous and alcohol on a good smooth texture and cleanses well on the back. Good balance overall with no spiking flavour.

De Molen Rasputin - having tried one of these brewers Imperial Stouts recently in Adelaide, I decided to keep these ones til last. This on had some vinous and dark fruit smell and taste but good body overall. Some alcohol heat but cleans up ok with some smokey notes.

De Molen Bloed, Zweet & Tranen - smoke dominates the nose and thins the malt on the front of the palate, with peatiness on the mid, with some sweet smoke on the back.

Overall, impressed with our own that it was even able to keep up with the others, the Clout was probably the best, but still find it hard to go past the Black Chocolate Stout personally. The tongue is a little burnt from the intensity of the alcohol in these beers, but with the food and keeping up on water, we got through it relatively unscathed and not feeling overly bad the next day. I am looking forward to taking Stass for a beer or 3 at Josie Bones around lunch before we prepare ourselves for the final event of Good Beer Week, the Slowbeer tasting. Having chalked up 87 beers so far, lucky number 13 of the day will get me to 100 for the week, with a few more than that...just to make sure of it.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Good Beer Week: Day 5 - 'Fitzroy-Crawl-and-First-Class-Tasting' Friday

Hey, I'm still alive! That is a good sign, and brings with it the potential to drink more beer...

Ok, having missed out on the Josie Bones lunch event yesterday, I decided to do a bit of a crawl around Fitzroy until they open in the arvo after the private function. With the sun out and wanting to start the day on a light note, I hit Little Creatures beer hall for a summery Bright Ale. With that 'settler', I went round the corner to the Rainbow Hotel, and noticed they had Good Beer Week maps in there. Talking to Jason I found they were actually a Crafty Crawl venue, and so got a photo with my first Craft Crawl treasure, while enjoying a Holgate Temptress. Hmm, a Bogan, wearing an anti-bogan beer shirt, drinking a 'just-like-a-chocolate-'milk'shake-only-beery' beer and holding a poster that seems to contain the secret to lactose brewing...that has to be one of my better photos from the week.

Finding out Grumpy's Green was also a 'crawl' venue I made my way to Smith Street, walked in and asked what their treasure was. Nick did not know, so I just grabbed a pot of Bridge Road Pale and sat outside to keep an eye on Josie Bones to see when it would open. Who should be out the front but Tom who I meet at the opening dinner to GBW on Monday, who found out for me what the treasure was. I went back in and told Nick, who then allowed me to stand behind the bar to get the full effect of the paper cranes above me.

After finishing that beer, I went across the road to see if Josie Bones had opened, just to find Jade from the Wheaty coming out of the lunch and looking desperately for a coffee. Directing her to Gertrude Street and seeing Josie Bones was still cleaning up from the lunch, I went back to Grumpy's to get a 2 Brothers Brown Ale and chat more the Nick.

Finally, Josie Bones opened and as I sat down James came across and introduced himself to me and we had a quick chat about the week, the beers they have on tap (just amazing!) and events he was looking to do. After giving me a quick taste of the Black Saison (light choc malt smell and front but with classic fruity flavour you would expect from a normal saison. Not what I was expecting, but pleased to find) before he left me in the capable hands of Sarah and Stewart, who continued my day of chatting to bar staff, and furnished me with a 3 Ravens Ale Noir. With this one I was expecting a big malty beer that would normally be barrelled, but for me it was like a lightly smokey red ale, and then after one of the tastings later that night, found it was actually more of a barleywine than red ale flavour I was getting from it. Again, I was pretty impressed.

With this Bridge Road Brew 500/Dog's Breakfast still teasing me after 2 attempts, I decided to try it again here. The vessel and temperature this third one came to me in was much better than previous, and not sure if I really just want to sense it, but did kind of pick up on a honey/maple syrup smell and slight tingle of it on the midpalate. I also seemed to notice a little more body from the oats, and of course, the smokey bacon. I'm still not quite there with it (still not getting coffee, but maybe not being a coffee drinking to making it hard for me to pick it), but this was definitely the best one I have had this week.

I then had the Moon Dog Black Lung porter, and have to say now this was more of a 'hit' then the 'miss' I felt with the pineapple beer, and the 'passable' stout. The first taste hit me pretty hard actually, with a sharp vinous quality dampened with the malty front and smokey back. Still, it seemed to clean up pretty well in aftertaste, so wasn't offensive, and the porter style didn't make it too heavy on the tongue. After that first intense taste, it came off more rounded in flavour with subsequent sips. none of the mirky midpalate on this beer, clean and sharp better describes this one, and happy to finally find a decent beer from a brewery I'd like to be more supportive towards.

Being on a purple patch so far at Josie Bones, and with just enough time to try it, I had the Hitachino Nest Expresso Stout. Wow, nothing like the bitter and thin beer I had tried from the bottle all those months ago, and the staff were right to recommend this one. With some chocolate on the nose, that combined with the coffee to make it taste a bit like a Mocha Porter, the richness in taste and texture this beer had completely blew me away. Again some wine character going on in midpalate, but the malt and creamy texture didn't make it sting the tongue, and again cleaned up pretty well on the back with little alcohol as well. Though, by now I started feeling it a bit. Still, this is one beer Stass needs to taste, and already thinking of getting him back here on for lunch on Sunday so we can try this, the Black Lung again, and the Nogne and Gulden Draak I didn't get to try.

With just enough time to duck home for a quick bite I wandered down to Purvis for the Gold Medal Tasting event, and finding the place starting to fill up quickly with people, grabbed a pen and tried to get my taste buds through the next 16 beers. Overall I found the order of beers to be pretty good for the mix of styles on offer, and happy to see the last 5-6 were bold beers to keep my taste buds going and get into my sort of beers. So will just go through the order, and what notes my diminishing palate/vocabulary could pick up on.
Trumer Pils - hops are too strong on that light a malt body (sorry, my personal bias comes out a lot more by this stage of my beer journey day).
Estrella Damm Inedit - sweet light malt smell with a bit of a light spirit taste to it (sorry, don't know my spirits that well). However the spirit flavour is light enough to intrigue and not offend me. Interesting.
Bridge Road Saison - light fruit but a bit sweet on smell Same on tongue and cleans up quickly while still on the midpalate. Slight sour on back but not much aftertaste.
Cantillon Rose de Gambrinus - deep, but not overpowering sour smell but with some balancing sweetness. Much rawer sourness in taste but the raspberry sweetness again helps combat this.
Holgate ESB - big malt and hop smell, but the caramel that comes off as a meld between the two helps as a balance. Same on the tongue and cleanses well on the back
St Bernardus Tripel - full blonde yeast smell with slight citrus, spice and caramel malt to carry it into the realm of a belgian tripel. Malt comes through more in taste with a smooth texture and some orange zest.
8 Wired Hop Wired - seeing I tried this the night before I didn't bother to write down any notes.
Feral Hop Hog - Stronger hop flavour than the 8 Wired but still well balanced and clean well on the back. Hops also rise on aftertase but don't linger too harshly. Reminds me a bit like the Epic's from last night.
Weihenstephaner Vitus - banana/bubblegum smell with some orange which come through more on the tongue and includes a light sweetness.
Schneider Weisse Tap 6 Aventinus - slight sour and dark fruit smell on a dark malt backing. Fruit and yeast come through more in flavour but still quite light overall.
Schneider Aventinus Weizen-Eisbock - compared to previous, this has a darker fruit with some sweetness on the nose. Alcohol really warms up as it sits on your tongue but with a decent body to carry it. Yeast lingers on the back.
Holgate Beelzebub's Jewels - deep red ale smell with alcohol - bit vinous? Good texture with warming alcohol that slightly burns at the back, making the flavour a little one dimensional, but enjoyable...that is barelywines for you.
Gouden Carolus Cuvee Van De Keizer - dark fruit and caramel/toffee smell heading toward a smooth scotch/whiskey which comes across into taste but cleanses well on the back to just leave a nice warm alcohol sensation.
Orkney Dark Island Reserve - dark spirit smell with caramel to not make it overpowering. Smooth, dark fruit flavour but seems to cleanse to early on the palate to draw much from it, but there is a hint of dark fruit on the back, which with the alcohol brings with it that barleywine flavour.
Nogne Imperial Stout - dark malt smell, touch of sweet chocolate in the smell that reminds me of Brooklyn Brewery's Black Chocolate Stout. Toffee malt up front with slight bitterness on the back and cleanses well in aftertaste. Well balanced overall.
Armanger Hr. Frederiksen - rich/deep dark malt smell with alcohol. Light in body but smooth. A warming alcohol and slight bitter aftertaste (almost a 'knee slapper' for me).

So, probably my biggest day so far with 25 beers tried. Still, was finished by just after 8pm, so was able to come home afterwards and chill out before going to bed. It is now 5 am and have 5 hours til Stass and I meet up at Grain and Grape for the system wars, then start preparing ourselves for our own Russian Imperial Stout tasting. Bring. It. On!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Good Beer Week: Day 4 - Thrifty Thursday

8 hours sleep! Just what I need with 3 days to go, and they are looking rather large days too. After Wednesday I needed a quiet Thursday, and with Purvis my local bottlo and a 5pm start last night, meant I was home by 7:30pm.

Alright, as for last night, of course I arrived there a bit early to say hi to the gang and take a pic of all the beers before the place was full of people. Jade from the Wheaty rocked up and so was able to say g'day to her before the tasting began.
So, there were 14 beers on show, and I decided just to run the gauntlet through Epic, Tuatara and 8 Wired as they were laid out on the table. I didn't take any notes as was talking to the brewers and people around me too much, so I'll try to recall what I can.

I really enjoyed chatting to the guys from Epic as I started the journey. The lager was really light in colour and body (through a pilsner malt I think), but the classic tail of hops that distinguishes these guys did come through. The Pale built up the malt a bit more, as did the Mayhem and Armageddon. While the hop character cleanses on the back but rises in aftertaste, it was good to see that they still maintain a balance in each individual beer, so the hops don't give a burn. Ok, so hops aren't my thing, so I guess that is what made me even more impressed to see I did not get offended in any way with these beers. The Portamarillo is definitely a bit of a change in structure after the 4 previous beers send you down a certain path with this brewery. The smoke is pretty good and brings more creamy texture to the beer when it hits your tongue. The smoke is enough to remind me of the 'liquified smoked ham' flavour of Bamberg beers from Germany.
However, for my personal taste, the Thornbridge Stout was my fave from here. Good dark malt and the use of new oak barrels from the U.S. brings a vanilla, but even more so, a coconut smell and taste that I really enjoyed. I guess these flavours act to sort of balance the malt, as a good hop would, but also the aging helps mellow this out too, along with any hops they used in it. The aspect of hops and freshness of beer was one thing I gained a lot from talking to them about the beers they do. While generally, they find after a month the top note of hops starts to go (probably from the use of dry-hopping they do with most of their beers), and by three the other hop flavours are diminishing, I think they said after 6, they seem to rise again before dying off. Maybe it is just with the variety and process they use their hops that brings them this, they haven't even figured out how or why it happens. I guess there is always a bit of luck involved, as they said the Pale had been in the bottle for 6 months and was tasting great.

Moving onto Tuatara, the Munich style Helles actually offended my nose a bit and with the lackluster flavour become a cleanser beer after what I had from Epic. The Ardennes, once I walked away from the crowd to focus on it did give some decent Belgium yeast and golden ale malt character, but was pretty thin in body, even for a beer within the belgian style. Then the APA had a big grassy hop nose and taste, reminding me much of the James Squire Sundowner, or to a lesser degree, a Fat Yak (sorry, did I just get too commercial in the beers I mention on this blog?).

Getting onto the 8 Wired, overall I noticed a subtle, if not thin, taste to the beer, but compensated with a sort of creamy texture which worked alright together, but a combo I don't notice much apart from maybe what you get get by putting some beers through a hand pump. The Hop Wired, Imperial Red Ale, Brown and Smoke all had the classic taste of each style, but all were pretty diminished. The creamy texture of the Big Smoke did impress me though to really spread that smoke flavour across your tongue, but was not be overpowering smoke taste. However, the big daddy of this brewer, and of all the tastings on the night was the iStout, which at 10% has some imperial qualities included some slight vinous notes I also got from the Baltic Porter I had the day before. the semi-subdued malt melding into the hops, which then rise, and cleanse with some alcohol at the end had me going back for more when I saw there was still some left in the bottle at the end of the tasting, and no one was looking.

So, was most impressed overall with Epic on the night, and now having done it, maybe have wanted to leave them last and maybe taste off their Thornbridge Stout with the iStout from 8 Wired.

Was also great talking to all sorts of people there (it is pretty easy when all you have to say is 'how good is free beer?' to get a conversation going). A couple of beer nerd regulars, two guys from Canada/NZ, who I had a very interesting conversation about a beer chocolate they are trying to make (actually, I have an interesting idea for them on this if I see them again), and talking all sorts of beer with a fellow homebrewer from Torquay. Apart from the beer nerds, these other guys did know much about Good Beer Week, so spread the word and got them interested in a few other events. Then as the Purvis boys were kicking us out of the place, Jade and I had another chat before she headed into town and I toddled off home, without having paid a cent for any of the beers I tried.

Cheers to free beer!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Good Beer Week: Day 3 - 'Weighty' Wednesday

Just did a system check, and apart from the sounds, smells and slight irritation that I am getting from my body, there is no need to replace my head and go offline for 48 hours...yet.

Yesterday started with a trip down to the Local Taphouse, where I came across Ross, who was down from Brisbane to plug his gear at Biero last night. We both happened at the bar at the same time wanting the Moondog, but was told there was a problem with it. So, with us both waiting for it to get resolved, Ross grabbed a paddle while I stuck to just a Brew 500 from Bridge Road to get me started for the day.
While trying to keep up with Ross's knowledge of beers and brewing, at least we had beer travel to fall back on for anecdotes and even there he easily beat me with a 320 beer journey of the U.S. in 2 weeks (he worked out on average it was a different beer every 30 mins)!

As for the Brew 500, I did not mind the bit of smokiness and the light body of the dark malt was alright for the first beer of the day. As I finished it, the call came that the Moondog tap was working again so we picked up one each. What a great looking Imperial Stout! The tight foamy white head contrasting the black 'as the ace of spades' body. The smell was a little lackluster as was the taste, but the texture was really good. Funny, while the Red Duck Ox Tail Imperial Stout gives so much on the nose but not much in flavour, at least your expectations are not put too high when you smell the Moondog. One thing I also noticed was the same sort of muddling aspect on midpalate which I think also stopped me tasting much pineapple from the Mrs Parma's Moondog beer. I am now not certain if I could get any pineapple at all from it if this muddling is a style of theirs. Just as we were about to leave I asked the girl behind the bar what she was getting into on tap, and she mentioned the Murray's Easter Ale. My mum (god bless her for promoting my drinking) sent me an article about this beer, and so got excited when I actually saw it available. The three of us had a taste each and I have to say, there is some definite cinnamon on the nose and taste, with a yeasty/bready backpalate/aftertaste to make it actually taste like a hot cross bun! With warmth, all of this became even more prominent. Amazing!

With this step forward, we moved out of the Taphouse and onto Cookie. While Ross had the beer knowledge I had the Melbourne knowledge, so was able to get on a tram and find our way there in good time. While Cookie isn't a place I go to often for a beer, I knew they had the Bridge Road Dogs Breakfast, and not knowing it is also know as Brew 500, ordered that again, only to find out they are the same when tasting it. This was when the beer disappointed me, as I wasn't getting any coffee, oats or other aspects that were suppose to be in it. Maybe just a bit of bacon from the smoke character. With that second one finished I tried to convince Ross that Bridge Road do good beers, so got him on the Chevalier Biere De Garde, which was on tap. I have to say I still quite like it, but Ross found the malty front unbalanced the beer a bit and left it cloying on the back. I could taste that as well, but for me I enjoy that aspect of the beer as the malt just adds a deeper flavour under the fruit. After that I stopped trying to convince Ross and he decided to look over the bottled beer menu.

The Les Trios Porter Baltique is one I had been meaning to try for a while, so we both agreed to give it a go. Once I helped the bar girl get the cork out we poured out one for each of us, and seeing it was a 750ml, we offered some to the girl sitting next to us at the bar, as an apology for putting up with our beer talk. Well, isn't this just a classic of the baltic porter style! really nice chocolate smell with a hint of alcohol, big dark sweet malt/fruit up front with some vinous (reminded me a bit like a grappa my uncle let me try) but then a great cleansing back to make you want to go back for more. This was a beer both Ross and I could equally enjoy, even if our palates were a bit different. So clear in flavour, just the right amount of texture for a porter and clean on the back, so at least on taste you did not notice the alcohol much (9.2%). Mind you, the alcohol buzz hit our heads, so lucky we had half an hour travel before getting to Mountain Goat.

Getting in we noticed the beer industry types had assembled and had staked the best spot in the place, and as I lined up to finally try my first Wig and Pen beer, who should I see but Brad also at the bar doing a round for his workmates. Grabbing my Feral Funky Junkie (we realised we had the wrong beer after tasting and consulting the beer menu) we got drinking and chatting. There seemed to be a good authentic sourness to the beer, but wasn't too sharp and cleansed well enough to keep you going back for more. The body was pretty light, which helped as well. Mind you, the taste buds were getting a bit hazy and not even sure the order I drank the beers in but will try and eek out what I can.
I also got to chat to the Goaters and feel a bit more part of the brewing society all together in this one place. This was the first time I saw this sort of collective, and while I caught up with Chris, who I sat next to at the dinner on Monday (we are both looking at hitting the 100 marks of beers tried this weekend), I also got to listen in (well, what could I contribute really) while hanging out with heaps of others, like Matt from brewnews, who I think was chatting with Jason from the Taphouse (ahh, too many people and behind the scenes info for this newbie!). I saw a familar face in Owen from Moo Brew, and also meet other beer nerds like me, just trying to get to as many events as they could in the week. The pirate boys were out in force (getting Crafty in on the act) and met with James Davidson who actually came up to me to have a chat (is it bad to be getting recognised by people I haven't met?).

The collaboration Dubbel tasted a bit better then what I recall a couple of weeks back.
The flavour had become a lot clearer, so could taste the under current of dark malt and fruit, but there was also a lighter sweetness over the top which I quite enjoyed before that yeastiness comes in. I could sense a bit of belgian waffle from this, and didn't the warm belgian chocolate parcels just go so well with it. The two together reminded me of the chocolate coated waffles I had in Belgian, and while the 'beery' aspect does take away from it, the chocolate really gave a good boost to not just the flavour, but improved the texture as well, and it went down a dream.
I actually saw one of the girls from the chocolate and beer tasting event from the night before standing by the cooker waiting for more of the parcels to come out so she could have them with the beer. We agreed it was up there with what we had tried the night before.

All in all it was all a bit of a head spin and not just from the beer. Though, I did realise I needed to eat something substantial, and after have been stood up by a friend I was suppose to meet up with for dinner, I went to the Royston for a hearty parma and help out a random team doing trivia next to me. I saw a couple more beer nerds from the night before there, and I made sure to sit near the tap that normally has Carlton Draught on, just to smile and continually see it not there. I went with the Swartzbier, which was true to style, and so couldn't do much for my languishing taste buds. I did manage though to get back to Mountain Goat to try the final beer on the list, the Saison DuMoo, that Dan gave to me half price, as he only had pint glasses available and I wanted a pot. With that pint I reached the top of my stomach, but at least could sense I enjoyed it a bit more than the first time I tried it. As the beer industry types headed off to Biero, with a weighted tongue from tasting, a weighted stomach, a weighted head from all the info I was trying to absorb from industry people, and a slightly weighted heart from having been stood up by a friend at another beer event this week, I made my way home...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Good Beer Week: Day 2 - Choc Beer Tuesday

Hey gang,

Well, after Massive Monday I was happy to keep a low profile for Tuesday. Recovery and catching up with my new flatmate to explain what is happening this week, and warn her of the Russian Imperial Stout tasting I am having here on Saturday was about all I was capable of.

After a journey out to Seddon that took me 3 trains and 2 hours to do, I ended up being half an hour late to the chocolate and beer tasting at Sabroso. Not only was I late for my favourite event of the week and annoyed at the metropolitan train system, I was tired and still feeling the effects for the big session on Monday. Also, Jarrod was crook, so ended up heading to the event by myself again, and to top it off, I had missed the first round of tasting. However, with there being some left over beer from the first round still available, a plate of chocolate put in front of me, a table of people that let me sit with them, and a room full of people consuming and discussing chocolate and beer, I somehow got my frazzled self into it.

The first beer was the Grand Ridge Vintaged Hatlifter Stout, but seeing I was late I started on the Holgate Double Trouble Belgian Abbey Ale. It definitely did not look much like a Dubbel, and while the smell had some classic yeast and alcohol, the dark malt character did not come through for me. It looked more like a triple, and probably tasted more like one too. Still, the style of beer did got ok with the chocolate and blue cheese. The chocolate tasted like easter egg, and the blue cheese centre twisted your taste bubs about. In combo it also brought almost a salty character, so the beer was almost like a cleanser to it, however, as it warmed, the beer became a bit more watery which didn't help.
I didn't have any chocolate to go with the Hatlifter, but have to say I didn't mind the beer by itself. I have had a Hatlifter before, but there seemed to be a more even and deeper flavour to it than I remember. There was nice chocolate and dark malt smell and taste, and was actually happy to have had this second, as it was a real boost to the taste buds after the Double Trouble. I am not sure if this beer normally comes as vintaged, but could definitely taste that sort of aspect from it.
The Holgate Tempress was meant to be had with a nut covered chocolate, but for me the nut took away a bit from the combo, and so the beer was used to more to wash the nut pieces stuck between my teeth and nut taste off my tongue. I find many Grand Ridge beers have a naturally nutty character in the malt (Well, they have the Nut Brown Ale), so I may have liked this more with the Hatlifter. Still, once the chalky coldness in the Temptress had warmed out I liked sipping on this one for a bit, even if I am looking a bit worse for wear in the photo.
The last one was a bit of a surprise for me. I may have wanted the Holgate Empress to make a showing, but was impressed to see the Rogue Mocha Porter come around the tables, a beer I had only a few weeks ago at The Wheaty in Adelaide. Then we had been drinking it with easter eggs, and finding a more bitter choc went well with the sweet coffee of the beer. Here we had it with a coffee cake, and I have to say, this was probably the best combo of the night in terms of complimenting each other. Both seemed to have a similar taste profile but the beer was a little stronger in flavour. Still, the flavours did not become overbearing, so the cake did well to keep, but subdue the flavour so you could go back for another sip of the beer quite easily.

While I was finishing this one off and before I started falling asleep at the table, I managed to get Ian from Holgate to sit down for a chat about their beers (especially the Empress!), leading me into chocolate beers in general, and how things are going at the Woodend brewpub. I am sure I came off a little weird in my sleepy excitement, but it was good to have the opportunity to talk and shake his hand at the end of the night. Luckily the trip home went much better and so now feeling much better to get into day 3. Am hoping to hit The Local Taphouse for the Moondog beer they have on, and would like to try the Dog's Breakfast at Cookie, as I hear it will be coming out on the growlers at Slowbeer this week. Then to my old stomping ground of Mountain Goat to finally try a Wig and Pen beer along with the collaboration Dubbel brew Mountain Goat were involved in. I had a try of it the other week while it was being filtered, so wanna see if a couple of weeks have helped it come along some. Then maybe a cheeky visit to the Royston to continue tasting the Crafty Taps I started on Monday.

Thanks to the staff of Sabroso and Ian Morgan from Holgate for putting on the best event of the week for sweet toothed beer drinkers like me, and I hope my boss continues not to call me to come into work for the rest of the week (Thanks Tim).

Alright, back on the horse...or is that dog (moon/breakfast), or maybe mountain goat...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Good Beer Week: Day 1

Is it bad to start day 2 of this week with only 4 hours sleep and waking up still drunk from the 12 hours of drinking you did the day before? Whether it is or not, that is how I find myself this morning.

Ok, from the beginning...

Getting into Mrs Parma's as planned, I found from the bar girl that I was the first person for the week to walk into the place with a Hawaiian shirt on. Grabbing my cheaper pint of Moon Dog's Coconut and Pineapple Brown Ale and ordering the Hawaiian Parma, I sat and let the beer warm up a bit. Talk about cloudy, and with the chalky brown look to it, my first beer for Good Beer Week looked more like mud (or something else brown that I'll leave to your imagination to figure out). While cold the flavours were pretty muddled too, or maybe I am just not use to pineapple and coconut being in a beer (who would have though?!). As it warmed I could separate and recognise these flavours better, finding the coconut essence a little too strong, putting a weird overtone on the pineapple. At least the flavours carried all the way through the beer to make it bold, even if for me personally I found it more 'miss' than 'hit'. The pineapple on the parma helped boost the same flavour in the beer, but have to say I was impressed with the parma by itself. It tasted like a Hawaiian pizza, but instead of a dough base, it was on chicken!

Moving on from there I was too early for the public tasting of North Coast at Beer Delux, but walking past, Damien from Purvis saw me, and seeing he had a couple of spare invites, let me sneak in for the trade tasting. While I had tasted most of these beers before, I was happy to see my palate has become a bit better over the 2 and a half years since I had them in the U.S. (and on tap), or maybe it was hanging with some industry types that made me try a bit harder to pick some flavours and have an opinion on the beers. Overall, they are pretty light and clean beers, with texture that is decent (but not as creamy as when I had them on tap), which probably makes it a bit different from most U.S. beers I have tried. There was also a sweeter slant to them, so overall I get more a British style.

The Scrimshaw Pilsner was a bit metallic up front and back while cold, with slight honey coming into the back as it warms. Hops seem pretty subdued but it cleanses ok. The Blue Star Wheat has a bit of a fizz across the tongue with little wheat character and the noble style hops also keeping that flavour restrained. ACME Pale had some sweet malt/honey smell, which come through on taste more as it warmed. There was decent texture on this after the previous beers, and while the level of hops flavour was good, the hop variety was a bit off putting for me. The Pranqster had the classic belgium blond yeast smell, but did not translate wholely into taste for me. It cleanses well on the back and noticed a bit of sweet citrus that was a bit watery. The ACME IPA had a massive malt nose, but messed with you head with the mostly hop flavour, which builds across the tongue and lingers in aftertaste. The hop was not too overbearing on first taste, but after a few sips it was getting a little too much for me. However, letting it warm, the malt came through more to help meld into the hop much better, and some residual sweetness was also found. This is a beer I reckon would do well via a hand pump. The Red Seal Ale had a dark malt smell which came through on the palate as well. I sensed a bit of artificial sweetness and finished dry. The Le Merle had me between a St Feuillian and Saison Du Pont, but didn't out do either in malt or fruit character. Still, was one of the better beers in my opinion. Brother Thelonious Abbey Ale had a dark sweet and alcohol smell (9.4%). A Dubbel taste with a Quadrupple alcohol. The Old No. 38 Stout was pretty disappointing for me. The coffee smell, thin body and over-roasted malt had me thinking they shouldn't have bothered. The Old Rasputin Imperial Stout, while up with the style, didn't overly impress me either, except that it was able to contain the 75 IBU ok.

Having been able to do the trade tasting, I was able to get the the Terminus a bit earlier to check out the Crafty Pint taps and see that the Carlton was not on (Yes!). I tried the Hargreaves Stout seeing I was on my 12th beer for the day, and found a bit dry, like the 38 Stout. I had a taste of the Red Duck Imperial Stout with Jimmy, and found it lacking quite a bit in malt character, before trying to reset the taste buds with a Trumer Pils and Moo Brew Pilsner before the dinner started. The crumbed pigs head was quite nice, as was the calamari, but found the tripe way too salty, so not even the Trumer Pils could overcome. The Bridge Road Saison was next and went really well with the goats cheese mousse that came with the black angus carpaccio. The Feral Hop Hog IPA went well with the Americaine sauce in the celeriac gnocchi, but found the Holgate ESB overpowered the roasted lamb dish. The Mountain Goat Stout went well with the slight bitterness from the chocolate marquise, and was a great end to the dinner.
As I went to this event by myself (actually, I went to them all by myself) Jimmy and Ed put me on the 'cool kids' table with my fellow Mountain Goaters and other industry types, so was great to meet and talk to all of them about beer, rugby and the events to come in Good Beer Week. As this event was the official opening for Good Beer Week, Elbowskin played the beer song that has been used to promote the week, and Professor Pilsner had beer trivia questions between courses. I only managed 8 out of 15, but beat Sam and Dave from Mountain Goat, and ended up only being one off the groups that got the highest. After the dinner, this trivia was discussed more between Jimmy and I as we had a few shots. I was just happy I did the round of baby guinness as it was the only shots my taste buds enjoyed. Looking at the taps at the Termi I have to say that for me they are not that great overall. I understand why Crafty has chosen the ones he has, similarly as to why Stone and Wood Pacific Ale and other 'one step away from mainstream' beers did well in the critics choice awards. However, the Moo Brew Pils and the Burleigh Hef I had between courses of the dinner did go down well.

Anyway, now the hangover is starting to kick in, I might rest up, maybe just try the Moon Dog Porter at Josie Bones, and keep my palate clean for the chocolate and beer tasting I have tonight. Hmm, the first day has nearly undone me already (but I guess tasting 22-odd beers and 4 shots will do that to you) . Could be tough getting through the rest of the week...

Monday, May 16, 2011

Welcome to Good Beer Week

Happy Good Beer Week!

Here in Melbourne we are having the first Good Beer Week celebration as Victoria is the craft beer state of Australia. I have today off work to get things off to a bang, and also hoping that through the week I keep to the beer theme when not at beer events, as I am working on some entries in an amateur beer writing contest.

Ok, as for today, I will be having lunch at Mrs Parma's where Moon Dog Brewery have a Coconut and Pineapple Brown Ale to go with a Hawaiian Parma. I also have my Hawaiian Beer shirt to wear, which I hear will get me the beer for cheaper. Then at 5pm I head to Beer Delux for ACME and North Coast Brewery Launch in Australia. I have actually visited the North Coast Brewery in the U.S., so hoping to find out how they got all their beers so creamy when I tried them there. Then I make my way to the Terminus in Clifton Hill for a beer and food pairing dinner. Thanks to Jimmy for setting that one up for me.

On Tuesday I am booked in with Team Harrod (Harriet and Jarrod) for a chocolate and beer tasting with Ian Morgan from Holgate Brewery at Sabroso. I am probably looking forward to this most because of my sweet tooth and to possibly (please please please!) taste the Empress again. Team Harrod, we shall be discussing our IPA contest. Stass and I are onto what we want to do.

Wednesday is the guest beers at Mountain Goat Brewery, where I finally get to try some Wig and Pen beer, something I have waited for a while to do.

Thursday is the NZ brewers tasting at Purvis Beer, which is going to have the brewers and something like 20 beers from Epic, 8 Wired and Tuatara.

Friday then becomes another tasting at Purvis with 18 beers that have either won gold previously or look they they will have a crack at getting gold this year. Thanks to Damien at Purvis for getting me on this event after I 'helped' out serving beers at a recent free beer tasting Friday I had there.

On Saturday, Stass and I will look to keg the the dark ale we put in the fermenter last Saturday, hit the System Wars event at Grain and Grape (so we can learn 'all grain' brewing), before we have our own private Good Beer Week event at my place, trying out the Russian Imperial Stout we brewed with a gaggle of other RIS's from around the world to see how well we did (or didn't do).

Sunday finishes us off with with the Slowbeer 'Around the World in 18 Beers' tasting, which will surely be our final undoing (if I haven't already ben undone by then).

I would also like to do the Crafty Pint taking over the taps at the Royston, and check out more of Moon Dog's beers at The Local Taphouse, Josie Bones and Biero.

Phew...and all this with a new flatmate about the move in with me today. They will get to know me pretty quickly this week I suspect.

Anyway, good luck to us all getting through this week. Will try to put up any notes from the events in whatever capacity I have to do so through the week.

Here is to 'good' beer!


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Sydney Beer Weekend

So, after recoveringfrom the weekend, I can now try and remember what happened.
Meeting up with Joshie at the airport on Saturday morning, we stopped off at his brother's place to have a few of his home brew (well, it was nearly noon...). have to say he has a better setup than me, but now Stass and I have space, we hope to start collecting some of what he has to improve our brews.
After lunch we headed out to Coogee were I was reaquainted with my old drinking partner, Tooheys Old at the Randwick Rugby Club after the game against Penrith (the home team lost by one point). Have to say, was great after so many years to be back in the rugby club atmosphere and couldn't help but get stuck into a few Olds while there.
With me sated with the amount of Old I had in me, Josh and I made it down the road to Coogee After Dark to enjoy a meal with some good beers. The list was decent with something for anyone walking through the door, and some great meals to drink some beers over. Josh kept to the lighter side of beer with pilsners being his flavour, whereas after the old, I was ready for some more dark beers. Therefore we went for chicken and steak and started trying out some beers. Was great to chat with Dan and Emily and get some good advice on beers to go for. Beginning on Murray's Angry Man Brown Ale, Dan could see exactly where I was going, and was able to pick what was already going on in my head in beers to try from there. Having the Holgate Temptress of course was going to be a winner for me, and the steak was probably one of the best I have ever had. The Mad Abbott Dubbel was also pretty good but found the malt was not as robust as the Temptress and had a slight lacing of carbonation that took away from the beer, however, the chocolate plate we had with it was great. Josh also like the Cairn's made Blue Sky Pilsner that was recommended for him, whereas I found I would have liked a lighter texture to it to fit the style.

A bit of a random moment after that where I was given both a champagne and a bundy run just after leaving the cafe before heading to my mate Iain's place for his birthday. Unfortunately I have not taught him anything as could only find corona's in his fridge...disappointing!

The next day Cam and Kate came down to Sydney for the day from Newcastle so we had lunch and headed into the city and a place Josh's brother had recommended I head to for beer. Hart's pub was pretty quite (mind you it was Sunday) but had a decent selection of beers on tap, and mainly focused on NSW too to boost local breweries. I was intrigued to find they had Guinness Black Lager available so tried that out after a local porter. The cold filtering they seem to have used on the Guinness really took away from the 'Guinness' flavour, but had to be expected with it. It got a little better with warmth. Josh and I decided a nice Sunday roast was in order, so I got him a Mountain Goast Steam Ale to try, and I went a Dunkel from the world's oldest brewer. After dinner we went down the road to The Macquarie Hotel that has Schwartz Brewery within its walls. The main bar had closed by that time so could only try the summertime ale which did not go down so well in the cooler weather.

Yesterday I made my way back into the city to try out Redoak Brewery. Unfortunately they do not have a tasting paddle available, so had to content myself with the Dry Irish Stout they had on offer.
Finally I walked out to Darlinghurst to the Sydney version of the Local Taphouse. Western Australia's Feral Brewery had basically taken over the taps, so decided to stick with their beers for my tasting, along with lunch. Jose the Gose had a light sourness that worked well for a wheat beer, and found coriander upfront. But it was the saltiness that surprised me that came on from the midpalate through to aftertaste. I have to say the Hop Hog is growing on me, even as an IPA. The hops are balanced well enough and does not have that harsh acid that turns me off most hoppy beers. However, the French oak barrel aged version is quite strange. There is definitely a darkness drawn out from the hops, and while it is soft on the tongue and cleanses well at the end, I could not help but get a cheap toffee sort of flavour up front. It wasn't offensive, just weird. The Razorback Barleywine has a deep red ale smell with a touch of sherry and has a hop back that I didn't mind. However, the 9.8% alcohol did come through pretty strong. Finishing on the Boris Imperial Stout, it had a sweet choc malt smell and had a velvety texture. However, in terms of taste it was not a big as I thought it would be. It didn't even taste like 10.2% alcohol, until it warmed up a bit. One more thing is the malt biscuits that came with the tasting were quite nice.

Even getting back to Melbourne, I still managed a couple more beers, taking a Bridge Road Hefe-Dunkel to compare with our own Honey Dark Wheat beer for Brad's birthday. I have to say, I found them pretty similar apart from the honey, which was quite interesting to find.

Anyway, with less than a week now til Good Beer Week, am just planning ahead to keep me tasting good beer all week. Definitely have a trip or two to the Royston and a food and beer matching at the Terminus. Have also looked into a beer a chocolate tasting and reckon I will get my Hawiian beer shirt on for Mrs Parma's. I am already booked in for the Slowbeer tasting and think I will also attend the Purvis one as well. Which reminds me, having 2 more days working at Mountain Goat last week was great, but what topped it off was heading into Purvis on Friday for the La Trappe tasting. I guess in a way I worked two beer jobs that day, and got free beer from both. Happy endings...

Cheers to Cam and Kate, Damien, Iain (and gang), Dan and Emily from Coogee and boys from the Darlo Local Taphouse. However, big thanks to Josh for showing me around Sydney, letting me stay at his place, and being up to catch up after a few years. Thanks Sydney, you do have a beer scene up there...but not as good as Melbourne!


PS: I just heard some interesting news. There is an amateur beer writers contest on and thinking of putting in an entry. Would be interesting to see how some of this stuff I write up here might go and how I can improve on what I already write. Wish me luck...

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Happy 29th Stass!!!

So yesterday we got together at Stass' place, to keg the ginger beer the boys brewed last week while I was away. So I got to start learning the art of kegging beer before using the keg fridge for my first time. I have to say, our dark ale with chocolate malt was pretty easy drinking but with the extra malt giving it much more roasted flavours. Unfortunately the ginger beer didn't go so well and so was pretty flat and watery, but with a big ginger spiciness to it.

Team Bass (Beef and Stass) competed against Team Harrod (Harriet and Jarrod) in round 2 of our brewing competiton, and I have to say I was pretty confident in our honey wheat beer. Funnily enough we both went the dark route to work well with the autumn season, and I have to say if they hadn't explained all the ingredients they had used I would have thought it a good Dunkelwiess (like an Erdinger), just a bit overdone on the dark malt to hide the honey. Still, once the coriander, the 3/4 types of malt, and other ingredients were explained it then became a case of how did the beer become so well rounded with so much stuff in it.
As for ours, the decent caramel (choc malt with belgian dark candied sugar), with the floral honey (a little too much, and starting to sour a little bit) and wheat banana back palate, I couldn't help but gloat a bit (hey, it was our first time with this style, and happy that everything we added could just be found in the taste) and be happy at how lucky we had been with it. The only thing I could think to make it better was if we used slightly less honey. Still, I assumed Stass and I won, and no one would argue with me.

Then it was time for a beer journey of chocolate beers, starting with the bitter Arctic Fox, then the super sweet Magnus Chocolate, and what I expected to taste similar with the Mildura Choc Hops (it didn't in the bottle though). Next was the classic Rogue's Choc Stout that I brought back from Adelaide and then the Holgate Temptress, before finishing up on it's big brother, the Holgate Empress. I was happy to see there was a good diversity in which each of us liked most. For me though, the Rogue's has nostalgia and the Empress is just has massive flavour.

With that all over, it was then a matter of keeping on the keg and finishing off the dark ale right as the night ended. Am happy to say the backup coopers pales were not touched, but that some people brought some cheap dodgy german lager (yes, I did have a chat to them about it).

Well, happy birthday Stass. Hope you don't have much of a clean up in your new place today. Looking forward to talking about our next beer challenge set by Harrod with an IPA. This will be another unknown for us to try...

Cheers mate.